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Colombian Court Clears Oxy Project

May 16, 2000|Reuters

A Colombian high court in Bogota revoked an injunction, granted by a lower tribunal six weeks ago, that banned Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. from drilling for oil in a northeast region claimed as ancestral lands by the semi-nomadic U'wa Indians, a lawyer said. The proposed Oxy test well sits just outside the boundary of the legally recognized reservation of the U'was, but the tribe is using road blockades, protests and legal action to stop drilling because the proposed well is part of more extensive ancestral lands the U'was are claiming. A lower court granted a temporary injunction in favor of the U'was, arguing the project violated the Indians' fundamental rights. "Bogota's Superior Court decided the basic rights of the U'was were not affected and for that reason revoked the decision of the lower court," Tito Gaitan, lawyer for the U'was, told reporters. Occidental said it will restart work, which began at the start of the year, to build a road to the proposed well head. U'wa supporters said, however, that their protests will continue.

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